POTOMAC — On Friday night, No. 2 Churchill hosted No. 3 Gaithersburg in the 4A West regional semifinal MPSSAA high school football playoffs matchup.
However, Trojans star running back Gideon Ituka missed most of the game due to an ankle injury, as the Bulldogs took full advantage behind their star running back David Avit for the 41-14 victory.
“It always means a lot when you can beat a team by this much,” said Avit. “We came prepared, we practiced hard, we knew our job, we knew our assignment, and we just got it done.”
Churchill’s domination came in the first half, leading 41-0 heading into halftime. Avit finished the night with 204 rushing yards and five touchdowns, as the Bulldogs’ primary game plan was to feed him the ball.
“To be able to do that all in one half is amazing to me,” said Avit. “I don’t really look at my stats that much, but that’s awesome.”
Churchill scored six touchdowns all in the first half, with Avit scoring five of those and the other courtesy of a quarterback sneak by Vasi Hallas. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs defense finished with seven takeaways, as linebacker Diezel Duckett had two fumble recoveries.
“Honestly, they kind of just gave it to us,” said Duckett. “But we also just capitalized on those moments. I was there in the right position and also putting in work during the week to make sure we get there.”
The first turnover came on the first play from scrimmage when Churchill’s Jamal Kadar intercepted Gaithersburg quarterback Sean Abdulla’s pass.
“Now, in the playoffs, we finally came into who we are,” said Duckett. “Our defense locked down, offense hitting on all cylinders, and it just feels great.”
However, Ituka finally entered the contest in the fourth quarter and scored two short rushing touchdowns to avoid the shutout. With the victory and Quince Orchard’s 39-game winning streak ending, the Bulldogs will be the No. 1 seed in the MPSSAA 4A state quarterfinals and host No. 8 Bethesda-Chevy Chase tomorrow night.
“When was the last time Churchill was the No. 1 seed in Maryland? I can’t even remember,” said Avit. “It’s an amazing experience. God is really looking down on this team and helping us.”
“We earned it,” said Duckett. “We’ve been working hard all year. The regular season was tough for us. We had a tough schedule this year. Everybody’s going to say that we had it easy, but at the end of the day, we earned this.
Since that 1-9 season in 2019, Churchill has been 27-6 under head coach Joe Rydzewski.
“It’s hard to put into words really,” said Rydzewski. “Because we’ve worked so hard, and now we have an opportunity to host a state quarterfinal.”